UFC Fight Night 59 Date: January 18, 2015 Arena: TD Garden City: Boston, MA Lightweight bout: Benson “Smooth” Henderson (-130) vs Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone (+120) Fight Breakdown: UFC Fight Night 59 in Boston will have a trilogy for its co-main event, as former UFC Lightweight Champion Benson “Smooth” Henderson looks to make it 3-0 against Jackson-Winklejohn MMA’s Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. The betting odds for this one are tight, with Henderson being a slight favorite at -130 ($130 to win $100) and Cerrone being the slight underdog at +120 ($100 to win $120) at 5Dimes Sportsbooks. “Smooth” Benson Hendson (21-4 MMA, 9-2 UFC) is coming off the first T/KO loss of his professional mixed martial arts career, which came against the current number one contender Rafael dos Anjos at UFC Fight Night 49 nearly half a year ago. In my opinion, it was an early stoppage by referee John McCarthy, and Henderson immediately protested it, laughing it off and then running around the cage to further prove he is perfectly fine. It seemed the Brazilian dropped (and most likely hurt) Henderson, but the former champion was not knocked out. If the referee didn’t stop the fight, dos Anjos could have potentially continued to pour on strikes and finish the fight – or, Henderson would have found success with the takedown attempt he looked to have been going for at the time of stoppage, and would have spent the remainder of the round in the Brazilian’s guard. He is a very durable fighter with a solid chin, so I personally think if McCarthy let the fight go on, he would have survived that attack. After flirting with the idea of a move to welterweight, “Smooth” has decided to make lightweight his home for the foreseeable future. Heading into this co-main event scrap tonight, Henderson will be looking to bounce back into the win column with one thing in mind: a third crack at Anthony Pettis and his championship gold. “Bendo” is an excellent striker who comes from a Tae Kwon Do background and owns a black belt in the sport. He is very versatile on the feet, as well as effective, but the one knock regarding his striking would be that he does not possess knockout power, as he has failed to earn one in nearly six years and owns only two in his professional mixed martial arts career. The 31-year old has very strong legs, which he uses to deliver vicious leg kicks, as well as heavy kicks to the head and body. He has a wide variety of kicks in his striking arsenal and is effective with all of them, including his push-kick and side-kicks. Henderson is often unique and creative inside the cage, and one unusual thing he likes to implement are heel kicks, and does so off his back or against the cage. The former UFC and WEC Lightweight Champion is quick on his feet and does a good job of moving in and out. He possesses good head movement and solid striking defense, though it Is worth noting he sometimes has spurts where he goes into somewhat of a defensive mode and state of hesitation where he does not dish out a large volume of strikes, which I think has played a part in why so many of his fights have been so closely contested. “Smooth” is a southpaw who likes to implement his elbows in his striking, especially in combinations, and he throws a beautiful inside elbow, as well. He is not as active with his knees but does throw the occasional knee strike. He has a nice jab and often doubles up on it. “Bendo” has an excellent straight left and a nice uppercut, which he sometimes leads with and used it to hurt Rustam Khabilov before finishing him with a rear naked choke. One of his most used tools on the feet is another unique and unorthodox technique: the punch to the thigh, which is something the rest of his team-mates at the MMA Lab in Arizona have begun to implement, as well. Henderson has phenomenal submission defense and seems to be impossible to choke out, as he has survived and escaped from many incredibly tight choke attempts by various opponents throughout his career. That said, he was put to sleep with an anaconda choke in his third professional fight back in 2007, which was also his first taste of defeat. That was the only time he had been submitting until losing his UFC Lightweight title to Anthony Pettis via armbar submission in the very first round of action. The 31-year olds offensive submission game is also very good, as he possesses a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and owns nine of his 21 professional mixed martial arts career victories by way of tapout. “Bendo” works solid takedowns, including nice single and double-legs. He is dominant from top position on the mat, where he displays a vicious ground and pound attack, and he does a good job of finding the backs of his opponents and sinking in chokes. He has a great rear naked choke and a phenomenal guillotine choke, which is what he used to put Cerrone away in the first round of their rematch. Henderson has strong hips and decent takedown defense, but when taken down, does a good job of working his way back to his feet. He is a very durable fighter with tremendous conditioning and will be prepared for a three round war tonight. Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone (26-6-1 MMA, 11-2 UFC) is set to make one of the fastest turnarounds in UFC history fighting on card after card with only a two week break in between them. After scoring a unanimous decision win over then-undefeated Myles Jury at UFC 182 two weeks ago, Cerrone was quick to step in for an injured Eddie Alvarez, who Cerrone defeated prior to the Jury bout. Making back to back co-main event appearances on consecutive cards, he looks to extend his incredible winning streak to seven in a row. “Cowboy” is an excellent striker with great footwork and head movement, not to mention speed. His Muay Thai is excellent; he is very effective from inside the clinch and from striking distance, and he possesses some of the best kicks in the UFC’s lightweight division. Cerrone has a variety of kicks in his arsenal, and is dangerously effective with all of them. He does damage with his leg kicks, as well as his head and body kicks. The Denver native works both the inside and outside leg kicks really well. He often prefers to end his combinations with a heavy outside leg kick. Sometimes he will throw a combination at half-strength, and then follow it up with a powerful leg kick in full-strength to end the combination with, which he has been quite effective with. The 31-year old native mixes it up well on the feet, implementing all limbs into his offensive attack. He has a nice uppercut and works a solid jab, which he used to drop Barboza in their bout, before following the Brazilian to the mat to secure the rear naked choke for the finish. As effective as “Cowboy” is with his shin, he is just as effective with his knees, which were also in full display in the Miller bout. Cerrone likes to time and catch opponents with his knee as they are either changing levels for a takedown or moving forward attempting a strike, and he has been very effective in doing so. “Cowboy” fights best when he is moving forward, being the aggressor, and is not as effective when moving backwards. His two Octagon losses which came against Nate Diaz and Rafael dos Anjos were both fights in which his opponents were the aggressors dictating control of the cage. The WEC veteran is incredibly talented on the mat, as well, having an excellent Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu game and owning a very impressive 15 of 25 professional mixed martial arts victories by way of submission. “Cowboy” is a serious threat from both top and bottom positions. He loves to choke his opponents out; the triangle choke is his favorite submission to go for, so he definitely does not mind being on his back, as it gives him an opportunity to secure his favorite finish. The 31 year old has works solid takedowns, including a nice single-leg and a great body-lock takedown. He is a tough and durable fighter who possesses a good chin and better recovery. His cardio is up there, as well, especially considering he trains in high altitude at Jackson-Winklejohn MMA in Albuquerque, NM. Even considering he just fought two weeks ago, I think he will have more than enough gas in the tank to take this trilogy to the distance. Gabe’s Thoughts: It’s tough to go against Cerrone when he just made us money a couple of weeks ago, but I see some value in Henderson here, so I have to side with him for a play. I think if this fight was made a year ago, Henderson would be at least a -250 favorite. His controversial T/KO loss to dos Anjos and Cerrone’s current winning streak have impacted and clouted the current betting lines. This 155 pound scrap will likely be closely contested, but more often than not, I think “Bendo” finds a way to get his hand raised. While Cerrone is undoubtedly a dangerous finisher, I don’t like his chances of finishing Henderson. On the other-hand, I think Henderson is capable of choking Cerrone out for the second time. That said, I think this fight goes all three rounds more often than not, with the former WEC and UFC Lightweight Champion getting his hand raised the majority of the time. Gabe’s Call: Benson “Smooth” Henderson by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) Gabe’s Recommended Play: Henderson (-130) 3.25u to win 2.5u
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